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Twelve in-depth case studies of the EU and countries across the globe, written by the leading country specialists and combining insights of cutting-edge institutional analysis and deep study of national histories, explore how the concepts of interests, identities and institutions shape the politics of nations and regions. The country studies trace the global and historical contexts of political development and examine the diverse pathways that countries have taken in their quest to adapt to the competitive pressures of twenty-first-century globalization. These country studies constitute the overarching framework of the text, addressing the larger question, 'why are countries ruled and governed so differently?' Free of heavy-handed jargon, Comparative Politics inspires thought-provoking debate among introductory students and specialists alike, and encourages students to engage in real comparative analysis. In this new edition, all twelve country studies have been rewritten, and the first two theory chapters have been updated to reflect the latest research in the field.
Imagine that you could design the political order for a country of your choosing. Where would you start? Who would get to rule? What rules for political life would you choose? Could you make rules that would be fair to everyone? If not, whom would these rules favor and whom would they disadvantage? Would they be rules that even those at the bottom of the social order, the poorest and least powerful people, would agree to? What would be the procedures for changing the rules? These are difficult questions because to answer them in a meaningful way requires an understanding of why and how different countries of the world are governed differently. With so many choices to make, it is easy to see why the job of designing a constitution would be such a difficult one.
It could, however, be made easier. One might start by evaluating the existing possibilities as exemplified by the various forms of government in the states of the world. The state is an organization that possesses sovereignty over a territory and its people. Yet, within our world of states, no two are ruled in exactly the same way. Why should this be the case? Why are societies run, and political orders designed, in so many different ways? What consequences do these differences hold for a people’s well-being?
In the previous chapter, we outlined our basic approach to comparative politics. In short, we see the world as made up of competing “regime types,” such as democracy, authoritarianism, fascism, and communism, which emerged in specific global and historical contexts and which shape domestic interests, identities, and institutions in particular ways. The success or failure of a given regime in one part of the world, in turn, can have dramatic effects on the global environment, influencing the domestic politics of other countries in powerful and sometimes surprising ways.
Any global order thus involves competition in world-historical space and time that affects the evolution of states. Here are the questions comparativists ask: What was the competitive international situation in which a state found itself when it attempted to modernize and industrialize? Who were its principal rivals and competitors among sovereign states? In other words, who developed first, had a head start, and could serve as a benchmark? And who developed later, had to play catch-up in order not to be left behind, and hence looked for negative and positive role models?
To navigate between a thin democracy determined exogenously and a thick democracy fashioning its own future, a free and rational society requires a fit state. After presenting Tilly’s contentious democracy (Section 6.1), this chapter discusses his causal claims (Section 6.2). It then explores his causal methodology: complex contingent dynamic processes (Section 6.3). Since it is able to deal with environmental challenges, Tilly’s contentious democracy is also a fit democracy (Section 6.4).
Suppose that there is no common currency of politics and no scheme to rank all social values. Further suppose that there is no single Good Life simultaneously manifesting the best of all moral goods and no one doctrine of Practical Reason on which all interests converge. Finally, suppose that there is no unitary Big Answer that makes all of the above consistent with one another. With no overarching principle to arbitrate or resolve conflicts, values inevitably come into conflict with one another. Rawls (1993: 129) thus writes that rather than being contingent, “reasonable pluralism is a permanent condition of public culture under free institutions.” Even if a citizen is neither misinformed nor stupid, neither irrational nor obstinate, neither evil nor wicked, but rather is knowledgeable and smart, sincere and well-intentioned, and rational and cooperative, his or her own values could conflict. Among a set of citizens, values do not necessarily converge. Many distinct, well-reasoned, and intelligent positions can exist.
Taking its cue from the contentious politics approach, Section 7.1 urges comparativists to study the causal agency of individuals (Thesis 1), groups (Thesis 2), and democracies (Thesis 3). Section 7.2 suggests that the three types of collective agency be examined in conjunction with three corresponding moral dilemmas: ought/is (Thesis 4), freedom/power (Thesis 5), and democracy/causality (Thesis 6).
People have causal agency with respect to democratization. This section begins by urging comparativists to explore how causal mechanisms and processes operate at the level of the individual.
Thesis 1. Individual and Agency. Adopt an internal perspective on the self-understandings of agents struggling for democracy: individuals hold values and beliefs, are moved by intentions and motives, and make strong evaluations and political judgments.
Slighting the importance of values and beliefs, intentions and motives, and evaluations and judgments, Moore (1966: 421–22, 485–87) famously focused on material structure. Rejecting theories explaining how culture intervenes between structure and action, he offered a thin theory of human agency. The texts examined here also avoid this important piece of the causal puzzle behind democracy’s origins.
Comparativists (LaPalombara 1970) did not like their battle of the paradigms in the 1960s and comparativists (Laitin 2007: 642–43) do not like the battle now. Intellectual contention among methodologies is also seen as an academic vice that holds no scholarly virtue. The critics suggest that paradigmatic and methodological discourses kill scientific inquiry. Studying philosophy of science means not doing actual science; exploring abstract methodology means not addressing concrete problems.
This book disagrees. Comparativists work with paradigms in the midst of things, and methodological reflection is part of their working life. Comparativists who dislike philosophy of science are commonly in the grips of an old philosophy of science; and hostility to social theory often masks support of one’s favorite social theory. As Eagleton (2008: xi–xii) put it, “Keynes once remarked that those economists who disliked theory, or claimed to get along better without it, were simply in the grip of an older theory. . . . Hostility to theory usually means an opposition to other people’s theories and an oblivion of one’s own.” Without some philosophy of science, comparativists cannot distinguish good from bad science; and without some social theory, comparativists cannot distinguish good from bad theory. Comparing comparativists’ paradigms thus offers valuable distance from actual scientific practices. Comparativists can then reflect on the routinely accepted methodologies behind their working structures of problem solving.
People fight for democracy. The fall of communisms, the Color Revolutions, and the Arab Spring are recent popular struggles about democratization. If collective human agency causes democracy, two questions arise: what type of democracy do people want? How is their collective agency causal for democracy?
Comparativists studying democratization advocate democratic theories and advance causal methodologies. This book will discern an elective affinity of theory and method. The Moore Curve – the more external the causal methodology, the thinner the democratic theory – governs democratization studies. However, most comparativists never stop to reflect on the relationship between normative and empirical questions of collective human agency. They inevitably slight concerns about how their prescriptive theories and descriptive methods cohere.
The way forward in comparative politics to more fully anthropomorphize people and insert them into the ought/is debate. Desired outcomes Y face the opportunities and constraints of historical conditions X. To deepen normative appreciation and empirical understanding of democracy, to join why-Y normative visions of democracy with if-X-then-Y causal models of democracy, comparativists should thicken their conceptions of collective human agency. Complexifying agency allows comparativists to reconcile different normative theories of democracy with different empirical approaches to causality.
CONCLUSIONS: THREE CHAPTERS, FIVE THEMES, AND TWELVE THESES
Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Lisa Wedeen, Atul Kohli, and Charles Tilly write from within Barrington Moore’s Problem situation: in the competitive international environment facing developing countries, which alternative modernities challenge democratic liberalism? How do social forces contend, democratic states arise, and policy regimes matter? And what are the origins, operations, and outcomes of state institutions? In addressing these questions, these comparativists confront the Barrington Moore Problem: the elective affinities of normative ideas about democracy and empirical conceptions of causality. An author’s normative democratic theory bears a strong relationship to his or her empirical causal methodology.
Moving forward, offering solutions and not only characterizing problems, Part III’s three chapters advance five constructive themes elaborated into twelve theses. While the texts examined here have strengths and weaknesses that can serve as complements and substitutes, Chapter 7 urges comparativists to begin with Tilly’s contentious-politics approach. The best way to advance democratization studies is to use Tilly as the springboard and the others as sounding boards to study the causal agency of individuals (Thesis 1), groups (Thesis 2), and democracies (Thesis 3).